Love–The Remedy for Discouragement

I set two goals for the month of June:

1. Finish the rewrite on my novel.

2. Take a picture every day about my word for 2017,  Love. Share the pictures on Instagram. 

For 30 days I wondered, will I be able to find evidence of love today? Something picture-worthy? Where? How? When?

And every day I’d catch a glimpse of something and feel a little nudge inside my heart.

~Fresh peaches from Thompson Family Farms~

~Our hammock~

~Summertime petunias~

~The American flag and the last gardenia~~

~Thomas and Brittany’s wedding~(taken by Kylie Martin Photography)

~The rainbow on Father’s Day when the newlyweds invited us to their house for dinner~

~A blank page in my journal~

~Another porch party~

~On June 26th I finally finished my novel. I had it printed and snapped a picture of the box containing the 356 pages~

~I asked someone to edit it and kicked back in the hammock to celebrate~

Three days later, I read through the edit and discovered I have some more work to do.

I need to go deeper. 

One of my characters hasn’t completely opened her heart to me. 

Feeling discouraged, I dumped out the pages on my desk and had a good talk with myself. 

Why is this novel so important to me? Why am I writing it?

Then it dawned on me.  

I write for the same reason I took 30 pictures. 

Because of love. 

Love compels me. 

Love for my characters.  Love for my readers.  Love for God. 

I write because I love. And love is stronger than discouragement. Click to tweet.

The next morning I lit my candles, knelt beside my desk, and prayed a simple prayer. 

Lord, I need You. Will You pour Your love through me today? 

Are you feeling discouraged about something? Look for signs of love. And remember~~

Discouragement doesn’t come from God. Ever. He’s a God of hope. Always. click to tweet

Praise the Lord! He is good. God’s love never fails. Psalms 136:1 click to tweet

Each one of you means so much to me. Thank you for your friendship and for giving me grace with the blog. I’ll be back the first Wednesday in August.

So much love,

Julie

 

Bottom of the Deep Blue Sea Gratitude to You

When I started blogging almost five years ago, I was terrified that I’d be writing to myself.

But you came! You showed up! We bonded and you cheered me on! You’re the friend in Proverbs 18:24 “who sticks closer than a brother.”  

I have something to share with you.

Here’s how my creativity has always worked:

I’m a speed boat skimming across the ocean. I get an idea and rush-rush-rush back to the shore to write it. Then I hurry, hurry, hurry in a panic to find the next idea.

But something inside me is changing.

When I’m still and quiet, in my mind, I see the ocean. But not the surface of the water.

It’s a deep place.

A secret place.

A place I’ve never been. 

It’s the bottom of the ocean floor. 

I bet all sorts of treasures are there–colors, textures, living things, mountains, kingdoms–

Unexplored emotions.

I believe God’s calling the deepest part of me to write something new like Psalm 42:7 says–“Deep calls to deep.”

To do this, I need to spend more time with Him. 

Just the two of us.

Last week a friend said–

“Julie, when you go to the bottom of the sea, it takes a while for your eyes to adjust to the light–for the particles to settle so you can see clearly.”

I want to focus on Him. 

I want Him to show me His Heart. 

What matters to Him. 

I’m asking for your prayers.

My agent is shopping what I hope will become my debut novel, but I have another story to write. It’s about an 18-year-old girl named Annie.

Annie’s part of a wonderfully messy family–the kind most of us belong to. Writing her story means for I while, I need to go to the bottom of the ocean floor.

So…

I’m going to start blogging every other Wednesday. 

After my journey, I hope to share something special with you.

I already miss you–you know that, don’t you? 

And I love you.

Oh, how I love you.

It’s hard to pull away because you’ve given me the courage to go deep. 

My new favorite song, from my heart to yours–if you can’t see the video, click here.

Have you ever felt God calling you like “Deep unto deep”? Click to tweet. 

What stirs your creativity? Art? Music? Colors? Food? People? 

Love,

Julie

Our Creative Best–What if?

When our son Thomas was fifteen, he stopped showing me things that impressed him. He’s twenty-three now, and a couple of years ago, he said, “Mom, come here. You gotta see this.”

I hightailed it up the steps.

He was in my office watching a video. “This guy’s incredible. Look.”

(If you can’t see the video below, click here.)

Bending over Thomas’s shoulder, I studied the guitarist. He was young. Amazing. Played from his heart.

I remembered Thomas and his first guitar.

Tiny tears came.

Happy tears.

Around the time we watched the video, Thomas started playing the guitar again.

Wonder why when I see someone doing his or her creative best, it lights a fire in me?

My husband Rick’s passion is cars. The other night, he was watching TV. I was reading.

“Wow,” Rick said. “Look at this.”

(If you can’t see the video below, click here. It’s less than a minute long.)

Watching Chip Foose draw, I spotted the fascinating tools in his office. Markers, brushes, pencils.

Did he draw as a child? 

I thought about my own office, my clothesline full of characters. Sometimes I talk to them.

I ask about their lives. What brings them hope? What inspires them?

And I absolutely love notebooks and colored pens. If I don’t have any paper, a chewing gum wrapper will do.

My attraction to words started when I was young.

I’m eight, reading a Redbook magazine.

I’ve been thinking.

Surely God inspired passion in each of us when we were children.

Maybe it was to knit.

Grow gardens.

Organize stacks of chaos.

Do math problems with ease.

Bake cakes.

Perform science experiments.

Be kind to outsiders.

Sometimes the joys of childhood get buried. We forget what we once loved. 

What if He’s calling us to play from our hearts again?

 “…take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” Galatians 6:5 The MSG

Love,

Julie

What Wives Wish Husbands Knew

Some things about marriage take years to discover.

Our porch party conversation Saturday morning:

“I know this probably sounds silly,” I said. “But I need a place to spread out the scenes of my novel. In color. I scotch-taped sticky notes to the wall, but they fell off.”

My husband kept rocking. Didn’t say anything.

How do I speak his language?

“When you were a little boy, didn’t you play in tree forts?”

He nodded.

“I bet you wanted all your G.I. Joes in the same spot, right? I need a place to play with all my words.”

“You need a whiteboard.”

“Yes! That’s it! A whiteboard with colored markers. That would work.”

Our next porch party…

“I checked prices. Whiteboards are expensive,” I said. “Big ones are about $300.”

“I can build you one.”

“Really? Would you?”

This is going to happen. Today. Wo-hoo!

He bought a whiteboard and trim from Home Depot. “Don’t worry about staining the trim. It’s fine the way it is,” I said.

He peered over his glasses at me and opened the stain.

I wasn’t in awe because he knew how to build something. Or even because he was doing it the right way.

My appreciation went deeper.

He hung his masterpiece.

And attached the trim.

He even put up a basket for my eraser and markers.

I ran my fingers over the smooth white surface.

“Feels like I’m a little girl again playing school–when anything was possible. It’s perfect. Thank you.”

“Glad you like it.”

After 35 years of marriage, I fell in love all over again because…

He listened.

He cared.

He put me first.  

I couldn’t wait to do the same things for him.

“…serve one another in love.” Gal 5:13 NLT

Praying this post will inspire creativity.

P.S. If you’d like a whiteboard of your very own, I found a great tutorial.


Love,

Julie

 

 

My Friend Lynne

Last year at the ACFW conference one of my silver sandals broke right before the semi-formal dinner on Saturday night.

What to do?

Lynne Gentry rushed over like an experienced ER doctor. “We need duct tape. Quick.”

Within seconds, she returned with a roll of just the right shade of silver duct tape. As the crowd began filing in, Lynne Gentry reinvented my left sandal and sealed our friendship forever. I’ll never forget her kindness.

Lynne’s debut novel, Reinventing Leona, just came out and I love it! Talk about unforgettable people–I woke up this morning missing the book characters. It’s that good. It’s written in a way that made me want to call my novel-loving friends and say, “Listen to this sentence….”

May I introduce you to my friend Lynne? Here’s her book cover. Don’t you love it?

And here’s what the back cover says:

“Leona Harper loves being a pastor’s wife. Her impressive resume touts thirty years of coaxing hot water from rusty parsonage plumbing, planning church potlucks, and standing beside her husband while members take potshots at his sermons. Except for the little tiff with her grown children, Leona feels her life is right on track with the wishes of the Almighty…until her husband drops dead in the pulpit.

When the church board decides to fill the Reverend’s vacated position Leona is forced to find a paying job, mend her fractured family, and tackle her fears. With life spiraling out of control, Leona might find the church members antics comical if she weren’t so completely panicked. Can the faith of an overwhelmed widow withstand the added heartache of two resentful children and several underhanded church members? If Leona can’t trust God, how will she learn to trust herself?”

Welcome, Lynne. Tell us, what brings our protagonist to the point of changing?

Circumstances beyond her control. Like many of us, Leona doesn’t like change. But none of us escape the twists and turns of life. Whether it’s the loss of a spouse of the loss of a thirty-year career, nothing stays the same.

Humor is tough to write, but you did a spectacular job, especially considering dear Leona’s  circumstances. Any writing secrets you’d like to share?

Learning to laugh, especially at myself, has helped me cope with the scrutiny that comes to those living in a glass house. But as a minister’s wife, it’s not always appropriate for me to say what I’m thinking, let alone laugh out loud. So, with the quirky cast in Mt. Hope, I get to say and do all sorts of things a good pastor’s wife would never say or do, but I often think. And I’m happy to report that laughter is good for the soul.

Where did you get the incredible idea to reinvent Leona?

I watched three of my older friends lose their husbands. Two of them regrouped, rebuilt, and reinvented their lives. One shriveled up and died in a nursing home. Observing their choices made me ask, what if tragedy struck me? What would I do? Do I have the spiritual chops to pick myself up and start over? Could I trust God to lead me through a dark valley?

Find out how you can purchase Reinventing Leona here, at Lynne’s website.

Thank you so much, Lynne. It’s been an honor. I can’t wait to see you again in September at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference.

P.S. My dress is black and green. I’ll probably wear black shoes. Bring coordinating duct tape, please ma’am.

Love,

Julie